Omar Imam

Imam

Live, Love, Refugee examines the mental state of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, asking how relations and dreams are affected by conflict and displacement. It is a visual evocation of the pain and desire of Syrians who struggle to survive in their new land.

The people I met are in the worst possible conditions, but they have the desire to continue being human.

I chose to make photographs that employ symbolism and surrealism in an attempt to approach the psychological situation of my subjects. I wanted to disrupt the audience’s expectations of images of refugees and to present them with questions rather than answers.

For me this is the best way to express this horrible experience. It gives viewers the ability to imagine horrific and over-photographed (but under-seen) cases like the Syrian situation, where every related story is a copy of a copy of a copy. I like to surprise the audience without being aggressive, avoiding the low hanging fruit of political reaction and focus instead on a deeper human perspective.

 

Syrialism tries to provoke questions about justice, future, dialogue, revenge, home, integration, fight, religion, and most important how we receive facts and build affiliation.

Stories come from a pacific activist, a Jihadi, a pro regime, an anti regime, a filmmaker, a drug dealer, an illegal immigrant, a businessman, a fighter, an artist, even me as a Syrian character and ex-prisoner myself, and many others from different affiliations.

I swing between the private and public of my subject, to let viewers discover the international policy attitudes through the intimate details of my characters. 

Mostly I was slithering in and out to find an artistic way to present visually a man who received electric shocks in his penis, or to find visual solution to tell a story of a 13 years girl who forced to marry a ISIS fighter. 

This project may be the first art/research activity that meets people from different affiliations; usually we gave propaganda for each party, and they always show the "other" as a devil, so when talking about Syria, every project becomes a copy of a copy of a copy.

 

 

In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam (b. 1979, Damascus) was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he currently resides. His wife and children received paperwork a year later, and have finally joined him.

Live, Love, Refugee is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland. In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with Syrians to create photographs that talked about their reality, rather than presenting them as a simple statistic. As a refugee himself, Imam understands the loss and chaos of being displaced from ones home. But dreams cannot be eradicated -- dreams of escape, dreams of love, and dreams of terror. These dreams are what Imam set out to capture. The resulting images peel back the facade of flight, to reveal the spirit of those who persevere, despite losing everything that was familiar. These composed photographs challenge our perception of victimization, offering access into the heart and soul of humanity. 

Imam's newest project, Syrialism, directly confronts the reality of torture experienced by the artist himself, and other Syrian refugees who settled in Lebanon and various European countries.  Like his earlier project Live, Love, Refugee, Imam met and talked with numerous Syrians, this time focusing on those who were abducted. Syrialism recreates painful memories to bring awareness about the psychological and physical torture that persists in the ongoing Syrian civil war. This new series seeks to question the perception of justice, revenge, home, assimilation, religion, and most importantly, how we receive facts and build connections. Omar Imam is both a witness and survivor, whose photographs reveal the human face of suffering. 

Omar Imam is an Amsterdam-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria, often publishing his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and with NGOs, he has produced films, photographic projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In April 2017 he received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award. 

Live, Love, Refugee images are available as 12 x 16", 18 x 24" pigments prints made in editions of 8 + 2 APs and 6 + 2 APs respectively. Pieces range in price from $1600 to $2200, depending on size and availability. A set of Live, Love, Refugee 12 x 16" pigment prints is available for $11,000.

Syrialism images are available as 12 x 17½" pigments prints made in editions of 10 for $1600. Untitled, 2017 [first served] is also available as a 18 x 26½” pigment print made in an edition of 5 for $2200.

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [there was only grass]
Video Link
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [found myself in narrow places]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [scarecrow]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [my wife is blind]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [car technician not a doctor]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [privacy in Syria]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [testicles are in danger]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I felt safer when I listen to music]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I'm afraid of the blank]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [I wish to become a dragon]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2015 [we are making one team]

Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [first served]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [electrocute my penis]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [eating meat again]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [God sent me a message]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [serene place]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [unexpected photographs]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [wedding dresses]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [the 'mortality' of war]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [the bloody war you see on TV]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [silly questions keep drilling in your head]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [I used to hide]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [I never walk alone]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [I cannot go to sleep]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [follow your dream]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [being a drug dealer]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [a survivor can't be trapped]
Omar Imam
Untitled, 2017 [38 checkpoints]